shelf awaiting anchor, fiction

shelf awaiting anchor, fiction

It’s suddenly spring. Two weeks ago, I took the kids to the bus stop in driving snow; today, the grape hyacinths are blooming in our wreck of a front garden, with tulips on the way. Temperatures are supposed to be more seasonal, as in cold, next week, but for now, we are slathering on sunscreen and putting the snowsuits into estivation.

The weekend was such a maelstrom of activity that I need another weekend to recover. On Saturday, two birthday parties, one for a four-year-old neighbour, and one for a sixty-year-old colleague of A’s. You can guess which involved a hired bouncy castle and rainbow cake. Poor S was so knackered by three hours of jumping that he asked tearfully to take a nap. At the second, slightly more staid late-afternoon party, the waxing moon hung in the cloudless sky, and the kids ate so many cheezies that their whole bodies were spangled with fine orange dust.

Sunday, A took everyone to church, where they’re gearing up for Holy Week, and I was free to clear last year’s dead vegetation from the front garden. It is a long-term goal to landscape it to replace the ground cover, goldenrod, monstrous hostas, mismatched shrubbery, and aged lavender with grass and low-effort perennial beds, but probably not this year. We say this every year. N was invited on a bike ride, A went for a ride of his own, and I stayed home with an overtired S. A coached in the evening. Finding it suspiciously quiet after the kids had been put to bed, I returned upstairs to find that N had loosed her collection of live ladybugs all over her bed. “Classic N,” my sister texted when I told her this morning.

I’m now sufficiently pregnant that I find it impossible to focus on any single task at once. It is maddening. This must be what squirrels feel like all the time. Last week A was travelling for work, and despite having a vehicle at my disposal on both days that the kids were in the care of others, I felt like I accomplished nothing in that time. I can’t write verse; I skip along on the surface of things like a flat and disposable stone. It is powerful pressure to know that one’s time will be unavoidably crunched in the near future. Impossible not to want to achieve something real in the intervening hours. And yet experience has taught me that my distraction is so strong that it’s almost fruitless to try. Understanding that it’s temporary is a comfort. Reading Ellen Langer’s books on mindfulness has been a help.

Despite my squirrel-brain, projects are ongoing, some nearing completion. Our bedroom, the last bastion of painted-over wallpaper in our 1927 house, is now stripped and patched and sanded and awaiting new white paint. I’ve ordered albums and printed photos to make each child a baby album, something I’ve intended to do for ages; and let’s face it, it’s now or never. The littlest clothes have been located and sorted. Somehow we all continue to need to eat, and I feed everyone. It’s noteworthy, though, that on Saturday A made breakfast, and the parties provided us with lunch and supper, making it the first day in post-children memory that I have not had to cook anything for anyone. It was a feeling as glorious as the weather.


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